Today’s cloth nappies are convenient to use, look super cute, seriously help the environment and save long-term costs. Many families are switching from disposables but wonder how their new softer nappies are cared for. With your average cloth nappy withstanding the use of three children, here’s how you can get the best of yours and help them last longer.
What are cloth nappies?
Put simply, cloth nappies are reusable nappies. They’re made from various materials like cotton towelling and bamboo, and you wash them at home, in your washing machine. You can get all kinds of nappy styles with multiple inserts, separate waterproof wraps (that come in various colours and patterns) and unlike the cloth nappies of yesteryear, now they come with poppers and Velcro, so they’re easy to whip on and off. There’s a big misconception that cloth nappies are inconvenient, but this is simply not true.
Do cloth nappies help the environment?
On average, one baby uses 6,500 disposable nappies from birth to potty training (the equivalent to one tonne of waste per baby). Three billion disposable nappies are sent to landfill each year and they take up to 500 years to decompose. Because cloth nappies are made from natural and recycled materials, you don’t have to worry about anything gross going into the ground and they use 90 times less renewable sources than disposables. Because they can be passed down to your future children or re-sold (after a proper clean!), you’d be helping the environment for years to come.
How to maintain cloth nappies.
We asked Michelle at Little Lamb, an environmentally conscious nappy brand here in the UK, to talk us through caring for your reusable.
Step 1: Flush the majority poo down the toilet (it’s advised to do this with disposable’s, also).
Step 2: Check your detergent At Little Lamb, we prefer powder to liquid. If you’re heavy handed you can’t be sure how much you’re pouring in and if you use too much, residue can build up on the nappy.
Step 3: Rinse, repeat… And be quick! Some people use brushes, some rinse in the bath or shower but rinse your nappy before the ‘main’ wash. We suggest a rinse where the machine empties all the water. Then you go on to your main wash – the quicker the spin, the better, so all the water leaves the machine. The more water the better. A fast spin is recommended, because it gets as much water out of the nappy as possible, which means it dries faster.
Step 4: Don’t over or under load the machine and make sure you use the right amount of detergent. If it’s three quarters full, check what your detergent suggests on the side of a box. Soiling, load size, water hardness – these are all things you should take into consideration when washing cloth nappies.
When do you need to strip cloth nappies?
You can do a strip wash if you’re nappy is becoming non-absorbent, according to Michelle. This can be down to limescale or detergent build up and your baby might be getting rashes because of it.
How can you strip and wash cloth nappies?
Put your nappies in a wash, with no detergent, says Michelle. If you see bubbles, you’ve got a detergent build up. Keep washing until there are no bubbles, then do a 60-degree wash and that solves most issues. Never use bleach or things like Calgon. If you wanted to use more ‘home remedies’ watered-down dish soap can be good, but we prefer olive oil soap. Both get rid of grease caused by nappy cream and lanolin. Make a weak solution with water, rub it in the material, rinse it then wash it.
More top tips from Michelle:
Don’t use the eco wash setting. Washing machines get eco ratings by using less water but nappies need as much water as possible, so they’re thoroughly cleaned. Wash on cotton for 2.5/3-hour washes at 40 or 60 degrees.
In times of illness, thrush or rashes, always wash at 60. If you live in a hard water area, always use a full dose of detergent without extra rinse, because the water in an extra rinse adds all the fibres back into the nappy.
Eco detergents and eco eggs can damage the material. The eggs catch on it and eco detergent they can be hard to rinse out of nappies and tend to leave a residue.
Things like essential oils and vinegar should be avoided. Essential oils go back into the ocean and can be acidic, so damage the nappy.
Remember that your nappies are going on a sensitive and precious area – your baby’s bum! So treat them with care and keep them away from harsh chemicals. When it’s sunny, take advantage – sunshine is a natural bleacher, leaving your nappies looking lovely and fresh.
Cloth nappies are a simple but brilliant way to reduce waste and cost. You can use them at home, just at night or all the time – even one a day goes a long way. Once you’ve got used to washing them, they’re easy peasy and look so cute on your little one’s bums! Enjoy the process – once you get going, you’ll be hooked.
For gorgeous cloth nappies, in a wide range of styles, go to Reusable Nappies – Cloth Nappies – LittleLamb.